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Choose the Right Community for Your Family

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: May 11, 2019 | Comments Off on Choose the Right Community for Your Family

The most important decision you make when buying new construction isn’t the house you will choose; it’s selecting the community where it will be built. It’s easy to be taken in by the “perfect” floor plan or the “ideal” size of a new home, but it’s crucial to carefully examine the surroundings before deciding to move ahead with your purchase. A community offers many different types of residences, but the neighborhood needs to be a great fit if your family is going to be happy where you choose to live.

As the premier homebuilders in the Savannah, GA area, Ernest Homes knows exactly what you need to consider when choosing the community where you’ll make your home. Here’s some of the topics you’ll need to cover:

Quality Education

Whether it’s highly rated public schools or exclusive private schools, charter schools or an outstanding homeschooling network, make sure that the options nearby will give your children the type of education you want. If you’re choosing a school that requires tuition fees, make sure they’ll be a reasonable part of your budget before signing a contract for your new home.

Community Infrastructure

Mission critical – research the quality of the services provided by police, fire, local hospitals and other emergency services before making a final decision about relocating your family. You need to be sure that if you need help, trained professionals will be readily available.

Ready Access to Amenities

Most families prefer to have quality shopping, entertainment and recreational options close to home. If you’re looking for a “deep country” lifestyle, you probably won’t mind driving a half hour or more to take care of daily errands and stock up on necessary supplies. However, many families (especially those with small children or elderly relatives living with them) don’t have the bandwidth in their day for lengthy commutes to essential products and services.

Green Space to Grow

Why did the suburbs become so popular after World War Two? The simple answer – green space. Thousands and thousands of city dwellers discovered the joy of lawns, swing sets, backyard barbeques, swimming pools and flower beds. Getting the amount of breathing room you and your family need is one of the ways to make sure the community you select is the right one for you.

Privacy is Paramount

Are you the sort of family that wants to get deeply involved with your community, making a ton of friends and packing your schedule with social events? Or does your clan tend to keep to themselves, with a few trusted friends and a lot of private time? Get a feel for the community and it’s personality before you move in; you’ll want to choose a place that respects your personal need for space.

Take a Bite Out of Crime

It’s always a good idea to get an idea of the types of crimes common in areas near your prospective new home, and how many incidences are reported, on average. It’s also important to check trends – is crime on the rise or has it been decreasing? Many communities also have active neighborhood watch programs, so make sure you ask about a community’s level of local involvement before you take the plunge. Many communities that spring up around new construction are safe, low-crime zones.

Interview a Few Neighbors

Take a few walks around the community (at different times of the day) and interview a few of the people who might become your neighbors. You can get an idea if the “personality” of the residents will mesh with your own, and how they feel about life in their hometown. You can also check out how well the other homeowners take care of their properties. The value of your home is closely linked to the visual quality of the neighborhood as a whole.

And last but not least –

Look to Fill a Current Void

Sit down with a pen and paper and think about what your current community lacks that you’d like to experience in your next choice of a home base.  Once you’ve made the list, rank the issues in order from most important to least important. This may help you choose which community will meet more of your family’s needs in a more objective fashion.

Moving Day–Keep Your New Home Damage Free!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: April 30, 2019 | Comments Off on Moving Day–Keep Your New Home Damage Free!

Nothing is more thrilling than settling in to your brand new home – we know you’re getting really excited! The long homebuying process is almost done, and you can’t wait to show off your new place to everyone you know. Now you’re facing the last hurdle before the housewarming…keeping your new home damage-free on moving day! Up to this point, you may have focused most of your planning and preparation for your move on the items you’ll be transporting, but now it’s time to give some TLC to your new surroundings. The experts at Ernest Homes have some sure-fire tips for preventing damage to your new home on your big day.

Set Up Your Strategy

Before you begin, make sure you have a detailed plan of attack. You’ve probably packed your belongings based on what room they’re in, and this a great start. You’ll minimize trips into and out of the house if you’re focusing on one area at a time. It’s usually best to start at the rear of the house and move forward. You’ll be more efficient and use fewer steps if you avoid backtracking. Fewer trips through the house reduces the passes through hallways, doorways and up and down stairs, leaving fewer opportunities for nicks and scrapes to walls and decorative entryways.

Make sure to measure!

Check all doorways, flights of stairs and other constricted places before you begin to make sure items will fit through them successfully without damaging the entryways.

Cover Your Floors

To prevent gouges, scuffs, cracks and rips, protect your hardwood, laminate, tile or rugs with sheets of thin plywood, drop cloths, carpet protectors, floor mats, or collapsed cardboard boxes. Make sure special attention is paid to high-traffic areas such as entryways and walk-through multi-purpose rooms. Before moving furniture into your new home, place felt pads on the legs of your pieces, and use moving blankets or flattened cardboard boxes to “scoot” the furniture from place to place safely. If it’s raining on moving day, make sure you have a welcome mat handy. This essential item means that less water, dirt and mud makes its way into your house with each trip. And don’t forget to cover the stairs – just make sure your covering material is securely anchored to your surface to avoid slipping.

Watch Your Railings!

Wrap your banisters and railings with bubble wrap, or drape and secure mover’s blankets over them. You can even use your essential collapsed cardboard boxes – just use your painter’s tape to secure the edges at the bottom of the railing after placing the box crease on the banister and flattening the cardboard downward. For thin railings, invest in a supply of swimming pool noodles. Cut them in half lengthwise and tape them to the railings to protect the finish.

 

Don’t Use Your Furniture as a Weapon

Unwrapped furniture is the single largest cause of gouged, nicked and scraped walls and flooring. Make sure to wrap pieces securely in mover’s blankets, large towels, layers of old sheets (for smaller items) or even bubble wrap to protect your new home. Use a dolly or hand cart to help you move heavy, bulky or unwieldy pieces of furniture. If a piece of furniture can be taken apart, or if the legs can be removed, disassemble before moving, making sure to keep all the pieces together during transport. The smaller a piece of furniture can become, the easier it is to move. You can even stack wrapped pieces of furniture on top of each other to allow for more open space during your move, as shown here.

Don’t Cut Corners!

Corner areas are particularly prone to nicks, scrapes and gouges. Use the creased section of a flattened cardboard packing box to cover large areas or corner space, tacking it in place with a few strips of painter’s tape, which won’t damage your walls. You can also purchase less bulky options such as these and tack them with painter’s tape as well. And don’t forget your pool noodles – the sliced foam can also be tacked to the corner, one on each side.

Wall Savvy

Lightweight blankets, towels, or our old friends the collapsed cardboard boxes can provide extra cushioning for at risk walls when mounted with painter’s tape.

And a final word of caution…

As much as we love small children and pets, it’s better to keep everyone safe on moving day by boarding your pet or getting a sitter, or assigning one “mover” to keep kids entertained outside, away from all the activity. Trip and fall accidents, dropped furniture or “squish or squash” injuries can have lasting consequences. At Ernest Homes, safety is always our primary goal!

House Plants that Purify Your Air

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: April 23, 2019 | Comments Off on House Plants that Purify Your Air

Looking for a natural, beautiful way to improve the air quality of your new home? Believe it or not, there are a number of common houseplants that not only provide lush, lovely green treats for they eye, they also make your air cleaner, healthier and sweeter to breathe. All plants use the process of photosynthesis to release oxygen into the air, but some plants have their own unique air filtering systems that can improve the quality of the air we breathe. According to a 1989 NASA study, some are even blessed with the ability to remove carcinogenic chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde from the air as well.

It’s also widely believed that green, growing things can reduce stress and lift your spirits as well. Who are we to disagree? Check out some of these gorgeous specimens – you’ll love the results!

Boston Fern

According to a 2010 study done by the American Society of Horticultural Science, these popular ferns removed more airborne formaldehyde from the atmosphere than any other plant. These popular plants require a bit of care; they need to be fed regularly to thrive, and if your home tends to have lower humidity and moisture levels, you may need to mist their leaves every couple of days.

Palms

Bamboo and Lady Palms also get high scores for air purification, removing formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, xylene, ammonia and chloroform from the air. Even though they are typically considered to be warm weather plants, indoor palms prefer slightly lower temperatures. They usually like it to be between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit; perfect for indoor living.

Rubber Plants and Janet Craigs

If you have dimmer, darker rooms that don’t get much natural sunlight, these plants are the perfect fit! They will grow more slowly because of the lower light levels, but they’re attractive, deep green plants that help eliminate carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene beautifully.

English Ivy

This crawling, climbing plant has the ability to thrive both indoors and outdoors. As an indoor plant, it can decorate vertically on an indoor pot trellis or cascade in lush waterfalls from hanging planters. Less finicky than the Boston ferns, it thrives with less water and a mix of sun and shade daily, and provides relief from benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.

Peace Lily

If you don’t have pets or small children, this exotic, indoor blooming plant is easy to care for and one of the most attractive options on the list. It does have poisonous leaves, so it’s best to limit its use to adult households or those with older children. It prefers shade to full sun, and has a high transpiration rate that will humidify your air more rapidly than most plants. Enjoy reduced exposure to formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene and ammonia with peace lilies.

Florist’s Mums and Gerbera Daisies

If you love to keep a cooler home, these pretty plants are for you! They prefer a temperature of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive, and do require regular feeding and watering. If you love to care for plants, they are among the best at removing formaldehyde from your air.

Golden Pothos

If you don’t have the greenest thumb, this little beauty is for you! Tough, hardy and almost impossible to kill, this plant can handle everything from overwatering to neglect. If you’re a novice gardener, or one that tends to forget the basics, start with one of these efficient air purifiers – brought to you by Mother Nature. You can reduce the levels of formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, carbon monoxide in your air.

Spider Plants

One of the most common houseplants in America, these spiky, spiny favorites are easy to grow. A little water two or three times a week and you’re set. You can expect reduced levels of formaldehyde and xylene in your home when you invite one of over 200 varieties of these plants into your home.

Snake Plants

Also known as mother in law’s tongues, these stiff-leaved plants have an unusual talent; they exchange their carbon dioxide for oxygen at night rather than during the daytime, on an opposite schedule from other plants. This makes them ideal bedside plants; you’ll get an extra boost of oxygen while you sleep. They also help cleanse the air of formaldehyde and benzene.

Red-Edged Dracaena

This slow-growing plant with distinctive reddish-purple edged leaves can become quite tall, sometimes topping 15 feet. Best grown in a large pot in a high-ceilinged room, this shrub is best for removing xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. It loves a space with moderate sunlight. If you’re looking for a smaller dracaena plant, other varieties are available that reach a more modest size.

Pare Down Your Closet – Painlessly!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: April 10, 2019 | Comments Off on Pare Down Your Closet – Painlessly!

If you’re like most people, your hoarder tendencies come out in full force when you’re faced with a closet bulging with “I can’t get rid of that!” items. There’s something about the seemingly endless choices stuffed into a tiny closet that tends to comfort us – even though the mess and clutter also tends to stress us out. Are you caught up in this conundrum? Let the Design Center experts at Ernest Homes help – we have some great ideas for painlessly separating from the pieces that don’t give as good as they get.

T-shirts from Hell…

Almost everyone has at least a stack of these taking up valuable space. They fall into two distinct groups – the freebies and the ancient. Let’s look at the freebies first. To be honest, most of them don’t have any meaningful relationship to our lives. Unless you find yourself reaching for the same one over and over, more than likely, you won’t miss them when they’re gone. The ancient ones – faded, full of holes and maybe even splattered with bleach stains – aren’t really fit for public appearances. If there’s any part of a shirt with huge sentimental value worth saving, consider converting it into a pillowcase, wall art or even a quilt if you have a bunch of these oldies but goodies.

Worn Out Underwear

If it has a hole, stretched-out elastic, or sags in all the wrong places, toss it directly in the trash. Most bras have a maximum shelf life of one year, and most underpants last half as long when washed every week to two weeks. Remember what your mom told you growing up…always wear nice, clean underwear. You never know who may end up seeing it!

Anything from “The Ex”

It doesn’t matter how comfy or soft it is. Your future will always be brighter if you let go of pieces that remind you of a not-so-successful past relationship.

Anything You’ve Over-worn

There’s a difference between a “go-to” item (such as essential black pants) and one that’s been around the block too often. If friends or family make the “blue dress again” remark, or you have a bunch of pictures where the same plaid shirt keeps showing up, it may be time to trade it in for something new.

Holiday Apparel

Storing clothing festooned with reindeer, bats or bunnies in the closet can put you into the clutter red zone before you know it. Pull these pieces and stash them in plastic bins or space saving bags that can be stored in a garage, attic or general use closet in another part of the house.

“Comb Through” Your Sweaters

Sweaters are one of the largest items we store in closets, and they’re quick to pass their prime. First, get rid of any sweater that itches. It may be a gorgeous color, but no-one will ever see it if you can’t stand the feel of it against your skin. If a sweater has pilled, and you haven’t had luck removing the offending nubs with a razor or a special pill removing block, it’s time for it to go.

Purses

Most women collect more bags than they’ll ever need. Keep three; a neutral gray, brown or black fall/winter bag, a white/tan spring and summer bag, and small evening bag. If you live an active lifestyle, you may want to keep a cross-body sporty bag for essentials while you’re on the go.

Orphan Items

Orphan gloves, socks, shoes and earrings seldom find their mates after the first week or two. Breaking up is hard to do, but once you get into the habit of letting go of lone wolves, it does get easier. If the earring is high quality or has sentimental value, have it reset as a ring or pendant. For gloves, shoes and socks, it’s simply sayonara.

Stained or Tattered

Like ancient t-shirts, it’s hard to let go of favorite items of clothing when they have an indelible stain or a hard to repair rip. If you’ve given it all you’ve got, but you can’t get the stain out, take it to a professional cleaner for a last gasp try. If they can’t remove it, it’s a sign – it’s time to say goodbye.

Clothes from Another Life

Still saving maternity wear, club clothing or trends from six seasons ago that haven’t come back? If an item just “doesn’t fit” into who you are now, revel in the opportunity to ditch it for something that will inspire compliments from everyone. If the piece inspires fond memories, take a photo of yourself in it and send it on its way.

Not-So-Successful Gifts

We all have them…scarves, shirts or other items of clothing that well-intentioned friends and relatives gave to you that just don’t feel right. The color may be unflattering, the size is a little off or it just isn’t your style. In any case, if you’ve never worn it, or have given it a chance and found it lacking, don’t let emotion hijack your decision. It could become someone else’s favorite piece in no time!

Too Big, Too Small

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to get dressed in the morning when every piece you pull out of the closet doesn’t fit properly. Only keep in your closet items that flatter your shape, button easily with enough room, and don’t pinch, bind or cut you in half when you sit down. If you’re desperate to lose a few pounds, take photos of a few of your favorite “goal” pieces and pack the too-tight items in a bin or bag and slip them next to your holiday wear in another place. Hang the photos inside your closet or on your refrigerator door as a reminder, but buy yourself more room by moving the actual clothing. Anything too big should go to a consignment shop or charity. Shoes that pinch, cause blisters, or slip off your feet while walking should also be rehomed.

Cleaning Your Kitchen – Are You Doing It Wrong?

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: April 4, 2019 | Comments Off on Cleaning Your Kitchen – Are You Doing It Wrong?

I can hear you now…

“There’s a WRONG way to clean my kitchen? Clean is clean, right?”

Well, not exactly. If you’re looking for a healthier, better-smelling kitchen with longer lasting appliances, you may be missing some of the essential pieces to the “kitchen-cleaning” puzzle. Luckily, you don’t have to work harder to have a truly clean kitchen, you just have to clean smarter. Here’s some tried and true hints from Ernest Homes!

Holy Handles and Doorknobs, Batman!

Some of the dirtiest places in the average home are the handles and knobs in your kitchen. A variety of germy bacteria, including e-coli and listeria, are commonly found on door and cabinet knobs, microwave buttons and the handles of your dishwasher, refrigerator and oven. Take a simple swipe with an anti-bacterial wipe last thing when cleaning up after dinner, and you’ll cut down drastically on the concentration of these invisible offenders.

Save the Life of Your Knives

Your sharp knives shouldn’t go into the dishwasher, especially if they have wooden handles. Most dishwashers are too powerful for these surprisingly delicate tools; each wash can take months off the life your best knives. Give them a quick hand wash as soon as you’re done using them for best results.

And Speaking of Dishwashers…

The inside of the dishwasher door is one of the most neglected areas of the average kitchen. In a 2011 study of 189 residential dishwashers, over 60% harbored fungi on the rubber seal around the dishwasher. And even worse, more than half tested positive for black yeast. Every so often, use your favorite spray cleaner and a toothbrush to get at the grooves in the rubber. If you want to give your entire dishwasher a good cleaning, mix a spray bottle full of 50/50 white vinegar and water, coat the inside and the racks of the machine, and run on the hottest cycle with nothing inside.

Water-Filtering Pitchers

It may only hold water, but bacteria and algae can grow in your pitcher quite easily, especially if you don’t keep it in the fridge. If your pitcher is dishwasher safe, run it through the machine each week. If not, take the pitcher apart completely, washing each piece with warm, soapy water. Let the pitcher air dry completely.

Stove Burner Shortcut

The stovetop is one of the grossest projects in your kitchen. If your range has removable burners, the easiest way to clean them is to place each burner in a zip-top plastic bag with a quarter cup of ammonia. Place the bag on a baking sheet and let sit overnight. The next morning, simply wipe the burner clean with a sponge.

And Don’t Forget to Clean Your Oven!

The self-cleaning function of most ovens runs on exceptionally high heat (1,000 degrees or higher) and the heating elements are placed near the back of the appliance. This leads to a lack of ventilation, which can blow fuses or burn out control panels. To preserve the life of your oven, pull out the racks and place them inside a large garbage bag. Spray with a strong all-purpose cleaner and tie the bag shut. Spray the inside of the oven with the same cleaner and let it all sit overnight. Wipe away all the grime and black spots the next morning, then rinse the racks with warm, soapy water and wipe dry. To prevent big messes, consider covering the bottom of the oven with a disposable oven-safe liners to catch spills. One caution on oven liners – before you use an oven liner, always check the oven manual to make sure your oven doesn’t have a hidden bottom heating element. It is very difficult and potentially expensive to remove a liner that has stuck to your oven base. This happens when the oven’s heating element is underneath the oven floor. These ovens heat up from below and this high, direct heat is too much for oven mats to stand, causing them to melt.

Love Your Sink…

The garbage disposal and the sink can be a safe haven for an astounding amount of bacteria. Cut down on foul odors and dangerous e-coli and some of its evil friends by sharing citrus rinds and ice cubes with your disposal. The fresh scent and acidic juice of the rind freshens and helps disinfect your disposal. You can also use white vinegar and ice cubes if you don’t have citrus rinds handy. After dinner each night, throw a handful of ice cubes along with vinegar or citrus peel into the disposal and run until the ice is gone. Citrus peels keep nicely for several days when stored in a zip-top bag in the fridge, so don’t toss them in the trash after every piece of fruit. After grinding, run cool water for about 30 seconds, then warm the water, add a splash of mild soap and swish a clean sponge or cloth around your sink to take care of any remaining bacteria.

Take Care of Your Coffee!

When was the last time you cleaned your coffeemaker? Not only does this popular appliance get gummy and grimy, if not cleaned about once a month, it can affect the taste of your favorite morning brew. Run a two parts water to one part white vinegar solution through the brew cycle without a filter. Follow with a few rounds of just water until the vinegar odor disappears. If you use a coffee grinder, make sure to wipe thoroughly with a wet cloth and soapy water. After drying, smash some uncooked rice in the grinder to eliminate lingering odors.

Get a Gorgeous Yard with Less Water!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 31, 2019 | Comments Off on Get a Gorgeous Yard with Less Water!

Beautiful, sunny, warm days are ahead, and this is the time of year when homeowners begin to think about getting their yards in tip-top shape for the outdoor season. By the end of March, spring will be in full bloom in the Savannah, GA area, so now is the time to plan for a lovely lawn and festive flowers.

While their yards remain a priority, most would-be gardeners and lawn care junkies share a desire to minimize water usage. Conserving water (and saving on your monthly bill!) is high on the list for most homeowners. If you’re concerned about the amount of water it will take to achieve the perfect yard, Ernest Homes has some tips for using less water along the way.

Go Local for Best Results

Using local plants and grasses is one of the best ways to conserve water. Indigenous plants are the most comfortable in this climate, and will require less specialized care to flourish. They grow well when exposed to the natural amount of water in their habitat, so they’ll require less additional watering than imported plants.

Plan Your Project

You’ll be able to cut down significantly on water usage if you group plants that have similar water needs together. If your yard is laid out with this in mind, you can target your watering needs more specifically, and avoid overwatering some of your plants by mistake. Planning the layout of your landscaping by the amount of water your plants need is called “hydrozoning”, and your local garden shop can give you great advice on which plants should be neighbors. For instance, you wouldn’t want to plant your shrubs, which need less water, in the same area as your perennials, which tend to need more moisture to survive. The extra water needed for your perennials require will actually stunt the growth of your shrubs.

If you’re serious about water conservation, and you’re starting from scratch with a new lawn, or planning a complete overhaul of your landscaping, you may want to consider adding an irrigation system. Irrigation systems are designed to send pre-determined amounts of water to specific areas of your yard automatically. Both underground and above ground irrigation systems are available. Most irrigation systems require specialized installation, but there are DIY above ground versions available that you can complete on your own.

Smart Sprinkling

Using the right number and type of sprinklers is one of the best ways to only use the amount of water that you actually need. For sprinklers to work at the highest level of efficiency, the same type of sprinkler heads should be grouped together on the same valve. Different sprinkler heads discharge a vastly different amount of water during the same time frame, so mixing the types of heads within the same area will cause some plants to receive too much water, while others receive too little.

There are three major types of sprinkler heads; spray, rotor and drip heads. Each has their own strengths and is best for certain types of watering activities. Spray heads put out the largest amount of water in the shortest period of time. These sprinklers are either installed into the ground, with a pop-out head, or are set on a grid or ground mount of some type, with a stationary head. They are most useful when watering small areas of turf, shrubbery or flower beds.

Rotor heads are best if you’re covering large areas of lawn, as they deliver water more uniformly than spray heads. They also deliver water more slowly than spray heads, making them the ideal choice for all soil types. They also cycle less frequently, giving the soil more time to absorb the water and protecting the plants.

Drip heads work best when you’re watering gardens and flower beds. These systems are made of hoses or tubes with holes (called emitters) placed every so often along the length. Drip systems apply water directly to the areas below the emitters, which can save considerable water, time and money.

Be sure to set the pressure on your sprinkler systems correctly. Setting the water pressure too high can cause damage to the nozzles and heads, and may even cause breakage if the pressure is extreme. High water pressure is also dangerous to your plants; they may bend, break or even drown as the strong jets of water disrupt the soil. Water pressure that is too low won’t deliver the amount of water required to keep your plants healthy. Read the manufacturer’s specifications and instructions carefully to make sure the water pressure is set to the proper level.

Water for the Season

Your plants require extra water more often during the summer than in the spring and fall. The extreme heat we experience in this area causes moisture to evaporate more quickly, drying out the plants. To avoid excess evaporation of your precious water, make sure you water your plants and lawn after the main heat of the day has passed – between 6pm and 10pm, or overnight.

Ask Away…Questions for Your Homebuilder

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 24, 2019 | Comments Off on Ask Away…Questions for Your Homebuilder

If you’re shopping for new construction in the Savannah, GA area, there’s some questions you’ll definitely ask during the first few minutes of the conversation you’re having with the homebuilder. “How much will our new home cost?” and “When can we move in?” are automatic; they’re right on the tip of your tongue. But there are some other questions you need to ask before you make a final decision about the community, home and builder you choose. Here’s a list of some questions you might not have thought about that would influence your home choice.

  • How many years have you been building homes, and how many have you built?
  • Do you have references from recent buyers?
  • Are there model homes or quick sale homes not yet sold that I can tour before I make a final decision?
  • What types of insurance does your company carry?
  • Do you have all applicable licenses and will your company take care of all required permits?
  • What sets your company apart from other local builders? What do you do best, or what do you do that your competitors don’t do?
  • What type of financing plans are available?
  • What kind of incentives do you and/or your preferred lenders offer?
  • How long does it take, on average, to complete the floor plan I’ve chosen?
  • What happens if weather or other delays cause the build to fall behind schedule?
  • If problems arise that cannot be resolved, what is your cancellation and refund policy?
  • Who will be our primary contact if we have questions during the homebuilding process?
  • Can we tour our home at various points during the construction process?
  • Can we modify our floor plan — for example, can an extra room or deck be added? How and when can these changes be made?
  • Can garages or basements be left unfinished?
  • How much “customizing” can be done above and beyond the standard features?
  • Can we upgrade our appliances – or substitute a lower cost version?
  • Do you have team members on staff to assist us with the design aspects of our home? Can an expert help us choose the right finishes, materials and fixtures for the layout of our home and our lifestyle?
  • What energy-saving features do your homes feature?
  • Do you offer “smart home” technologies?
  • Are there any additional fees regarding the construction of the home?
  • Where do you get the materials you use during construction and who are your vendors?
  • Does the community have a home owners’ association? If so, what will the dues be and what is included?
  • What community amenities are available in the development we’ve chosen?
  • Could you tell me about your warranty program?
  • Does the price include landscaping? If so, will the plants be replaced if they die shortly after we move in?
  • Are there any restrictive covenants?
  • What are the estimated taxes on the property?
  • What ratings do the local public schools have?
  • What private school options are nearby?
  • Where do the local children to go play, and is the area safe?
  • What interesting and/or educational family activities are available nearby?
  • If I have friends or family members visiting from out of town, what local sights or activities would impress them?
  • Are day care centers, malls, shopping centers and grocery stores convenient and affordable?
  • Could you provide a list of trustworthy local home repair companies?
  • What are some of the most popular restaurants in the area?
  • Are there excellent local emergency facilities such as police, fire department and hospitals?
  • Do you know of any plans for further development or expansion in the area during the next few years?

You may think of additional questions not listed here, so go ahead and ask them. The more information you can gather when you’re in fact-finding mode, the more likely you are to be completely satisfied with the home you eventually choose!

Maximize the Space in Your New Home

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 13, 2019 | Comments Off on Maximize the Space in Your New Home

Your new house is amazing…it’s everything you’ve ever wanted! You can’t wait to move in…with ALL of your stuff! Your books and electronics, your kid’s toys, your off-season clothes, your holiday decorations…you get the idea. Even though you’ve purchased a home that is a great size for your family, you still want to make the most of the space you’ve got. The more organized you can be, the more room you’ll have for the things that really matter. How can you maximize the space you have in your new home? We’ve put a list of tips together that will help you tackle the task!

Think Vertically

Most people think about opening up space on the floor, but you can also gain space by investing in vertical solutions. Shelving is a great way to add storage space to just about any room, and can be achieved in any size space. Whether utilitarian or decorative, shelving provides essential storage options. Wall-mounted cabinets are also a way to utilize vertical space – try one like this!

You can also maximize space in your garage by utilizing overhead space; try overhead bike racks on for size! You can also install ceiling racks for luggage, sports equipment, seasonal decorations or lawn equipment. Another great solution…utilize space above doorways for items you need close by, but don’t use daily.

Beware Bedroom Clutter

Make the most of bedroom space by choosing furniture that helps with the task. Consider beds that have storage beneath, whether it’s a system of built-in drawers or a high frame that allows for stowing shoes or sweater boxes. You can also buy headboards with built-in shelves or bookcases or armoires with jewelry hooks inside the doors. Make sure all bedside tables have multiple drawers. If you have a television in your bedroom, find a stand that provides additional storage areas to make it worth the space, or mount the unit on the wall.

Artful use of closet space is often the best way to save space. Consider space saver hangers, basket storage units or even a custom-built closet system. Don’t forget to store off-season items in Space Bags – these handy storage wonders can even be moved to attics, garages and basements once they’re filled and sealed. Another sneaky idea – add hooks to the back of your closet wall, behind your clothes. It’s a great place to stash things you don’t use that often, such as special occasion wear, extra handbags or accessories such as belts and scarves that are used with only one or two outfits. Save closet space by investing in a few “S” hooks – stash your jeans without the bulk of hangers or the thickness of folded fabric on shelves or in drawers.

For bedrooms that double as study areas, consider a built-in wall unit with both shelves and a recessed desk.

Bathroom Space Savers

A shoe organizer hung on the back of the bathroom door is the ultimate clutter buster! Use the pockets to store brushes, hairstyling tools, makeup and the endless cans, bottles and tubes used every day. Take advantage of unused space by adding a handy storage unit above your commode.

Kitchen Solutions

The overhead space option we mentioned for your garage is also a winner in the kitchen. Pots, pans and awkward long-handled tools are easy to store with mounted racks. If you’re designing your kitchen in a new construction home, opt for taller cabinets that allow for greater storage space and full-height pantries. Install mug hooks or wine glass racks under cabinets, and mount racks or hooks on the inside of cabinet doors to store small or flat items. Don’t forget the 12 inches right below your ceiling…it’s a great place to mount a shallow shelf used to store seldom used dishes, glassware, small appliances and cookbooks.

Public Area Bonus Space

Good news for living rooms and family rooms! Pull-out beds now come in all sizes…not just sofas. Look for twin bed upholstered chairs, or smaller loveseats that will provide accommodations for overnight guests without devoting space to a full guest bedroom. Invest in hollow ottomans or full-size benches built for stashing odds and ends or add both storage and seating with a DIY window seat like this one.

Look for Unusual Storage Opportunities

Did you consider adding a closet under your staircase? Or perhaps installing toe-kick drawers under your kitchen cabinets? You might even want to add a skinny sliding pantry to your kitchen, taking advantage of that “useless space” between the fridge and the wall.

You can even double-purpose your kitchen tables and chairs; store small items such as dishtowels, kitchen gadgets or even boxes of tea in handy built-in drawers.

A little creative thought is all you need to find extra places to stash your stuff…and we’d love to hear yours! Drop us a line with your suggestion; we’d love to add it to the next list we share!

Selecting a Shed – What You Need to Know

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 7, 2019 | Comments Off on Selecting a Shed – What You Need to Know

Spring is right around the corner, and with it comes the urge to “pretty up” your lawn and do some seasonal tidying. All of a sudden, you’re wondering what to do with all of your new gardening equipment, lawn supplies and extra “stuff” that’s been cluttering up your world. A shed might be just the thing…or will it? Before investing in an outdoor storage solution, here’s a few things you need to consider.

What Is Your Community’s Rule on Outbuildings?

Some planned communities and suburban towns don’t allow residents to erect sheds on their properties, so this is the logical place to start. Check with your homeowner’s association or local zoning board before making a purchase – you need to make sure you’ll be operating within the rules if you solve your storage problems with a shed. There may also be limitations on the size or the height of the shed, how closely it is placed to another resident’s property, or on the materials used to build it.

Penny Wise or Price Foolish?

You’ll also need to come up with a budget that works for you. While you’ll want to get the best bang for your buck, don’t immediately go for the cheapest model you can find. In most cases, an outdoor storage shed made from higher quality materials with solid construction will last much longer than the base priced model. It will also look better as it ages, which is a consideration not only for you, but also for your neighbors. To bring down the cost of a quality shed, opt for fewer fancy details and sturdy, yet basic materials. You’ll also need to consider whether you’re willing and able to construct or put the shed together yourself from a kit, or if you’ll need a professional to put it up for you. If you need assistance, factor that cost into the final total.

Easy In, Easy Out

Make sure the opening of the shed is wide enough to house your largest piece of equipment, such as a lawn tractor. Make sure the unit you choose has plenty of room to spare once your largest items are inside. You’ll want to have room to store smaller items and to move around easily when in the shed. If the opening to the shed will be above ground level, don’t forget that you’ll need a shallow ramp to get your equipment into the shed.

Blend It In

You’ll want to consider the presentation and design of the shed before making a purchase. If your home has a rustic, country look, carry that theme through on your shed, avoiding stark, square designs and materials with modern finishes. Look for a wooden shed with down-home details, and avoid plastic construction. If your home is more contemporary, clean lines and muted colors will fit the bill. A very formal home would require an outbuilding with similar styling. The smallest decorative details can also make a huge difference. Remember that you’ll be living with your choice for years to come, and you’ll want to be pleased with the final result. If you want to personalize your shed, you can add your own touches such as shutters, window boxes or cupolas. A few decorative details could make the difference between an attractive addition to your property and a neighborhood eyesore.

You should also consider you landscaping when deciding on a shed; plants and flowers can help a shed look like part of the plan, instead of having it stick out like a sore thumb. Plant beds around the perimeter, or if your shed has wood siding, add some trellises to support climbing vines.

Think About Maintenance

Sheds typically come in three types; metal, wood or plastic. Metal sheds are typically made of a simple metal skeleton sheathed in a skin of factory-painted or vinyl-coated metal. Both the walls and roof are typically made of the same material. Plastic sheds are often constructed of vinyl (polyvinyl chloride, or PVC) or another type of plastic. Wooden sheds typically feature stud-framed walls covered with plywood siding. More upscale versions have plywood sheathing over studs, with lap siding covering the plywood. Wood roof frames and standard roofing materials – such as asphalt shingles – finish off these sheds.

A wood shed requires maintenance similar to a small house. It will need to be painted regularly and will sometimes need to have sections replaced due to rot or disrepair. Metal and plastic sheds require much less maintenance. Keep in mind that metal shed materials can corrode if the paint or protective coating is scratched or damaged, and metal doors and other moving parts will eventually wear over time. Plastic sheds require the least amount of maintenance; the material is produced in the presenting color, so there’s no paint or coating to worry about.

To Floor or Not to Floor?

While some sheds come with a floor, others do not. Standard framed floors with plywood flooring are typically included with wooden sheds. Metal and plastic sheds tend to come without flooring, but manufacturers will sell flooring as an add-on. If you’re feeling handy, you can also build your own flooring. If the floor isn’t included with the shed, expect the floor to add $100 or more to the total cost of the shed. In any case, it’s best to install a shed on a foundation that keeps the shed off the soil. You can choose pressure-treated wood timbers, concrete blocks or a bed of hard-packed gravel. An elevated or well-draining foundation will help prevent rot and the destruction of shed materials.

If you think it through beforehand, you’re sure to find the ideal outbuilding for your home – one that will serve you well for years to come!

10 Tips for Maintaining Your New Home

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 19, 2019 | Comments Off on 10 Tips for Maintaining Your New Home

Congratulations on your new home! At Ernest Homes, we know how exciting it is to move into a house that’s never been lived in before – it’s a treat some people never get to experience in their lifetime. And like anything new, your new home needs some TLC to keep it looking its best. If you put together a plan for maintaining your home right at the start, you can fend off costly and inconvenient repairs later.

Here’s some ideas for keeping your home looking great – both now and years from now!

Commit to a regular maintenance schedule.

Put together a list of maintenance activities covering both the interior and exterior of your home that will need to be done on a regular basis. Divide the list into weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual responsibilities. Assign activities to a certain family member, or make larger projects, like yard work or window washing, group projects. Although it may be tempting to skip tasks, trying to stay on track will be to your benefit in the long run.

Deep clean your house twice per year.

Spring cleaning isn’t just a saying, it’s a great idea. Rent a carpet shampooer, wash drapes, clean out cabinets and reorganize closets. You won’t believe how fantastic your house looks (and smells!) after a thorough cleaning.

Train your pets…and children!

Establish ground rules, such as who’s allowed on the furniture, where the litterbox goes, where food and beverages can be consumed and if markers are allowed in the living room. Teach your cats to use a scratching post BEFORE you bring in the new furniture, and make sure puppies are fully trained before they’re given free rein in the house. Remind your kids that you’re keeping the house nice for everyone!

Change your filters regularly.

Air filters for your central air unit should be changed every 30 days to allow the system to work at peak efficiency. You’ll also need to check and replace the filters in your refrigerator too!

Handle the job everyone forgets – clean out the gutters!

When your gutters are clogged with dead leaves and debris, water from your roof has nowhere to go. Water damage is of the most difficult issues to handle once it happens, so keep the gutters clean!

Visit the great outdoors.

Regular lawn mowing is a must – not only to give your home the ultimate curb appeal, but to make your neighbors happy. You’ll also need to take care of raking leaves, planting flowers, fertilizing, weed-pulling and other yard work. Don’t forget to keep your stairs and entryways swept and clutter-free. Sturdy welcome mats help keep dirt and mud out of your entryway. And last but not least, add in seasonal tasks such as weather stripping windows and doors, opening and closing down the pool or touching up chipped and cracked paint.

Protect your family from fire hazards.

If you have a fireplace, make sure to have your chimney cleaned every year, at the start of the fall season. Dirt, debris and creosote can build up in the chimney, leading to potential fires. This is a job best done by a professional, but be sure to put in on your schedule. Watch out for clogged dryer vents – lint is highly flammable and accumulates in your dryer more quickly than you can imagine. Clean out the lint catchers after every laundry session, and add it to your weekly schedule in case someone forgets. Be sure to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors twice a year – it’s easy to remember if you change them out during the time change for Daylight Savings Time! Make sure you check the expiration date on your fire extinguishers too!

Register your new appliances.

Sending in the little cards or completing forms online can sometimes extend the warranty that comes with the product for up to an extra year. And once the product is registered, it’s much easier to get repairs done or replacements delivered if something goes wrong.

Make a list of professionals to handle the big stuff.

We mentioned chimney cleaning earlier, but there are other major concerns you’ll need to address as you go. Make a list of trusted professionals you can turn to for specialized jobs or emergencies. Ask friends and neighbors for suggestions, or trust online venues such as Yelp or Angie’s List for recommendations.

Don’t take chances – fix or replace problem issues as soon as possible.

A major maintenance issue is usually handled right away, but it isn’t uncommon to put minor concerns on the back burner once you discover a problem. The cracked window in the foyer isn’t just an eyesore, it can let heat or cold air in. The jammed garbage disposal isn’t just inconvenient, it can generate unpleasant odors from the buildup of bacteria and food debris. And we don’t even want to think about what’s going on with that soft spot on the lawn…but we need to. Putting off minor repairs can lead to bigger problems much more quickly than you would think.

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